What’s not to love about a sweet, creamy indulgence that takes no more than 15 minutes of actual work to create? Every time I make (and eat) panna cotta I ask myself why I don’t make (and eat) it more often. A few ripe berries on top and it is wonderful; a mouth-watering berry syrup drizzled over it and it’s divine.
The only tricky part in making panna cotta is that you can’t let it boil or it won’t set, yet you need to cook it long enough and on high enough heat to melt all the gelatin and sugar crystals. Then, once all is dissolved and blended nicely, you just have to wait — a minimum of six hours — for it to chill and firm up.
Red currants are a delectably tart contrast to the sweet vanilla creaminess here, but you can use any ripe (or frozen) berries to make the syrup. Enjoy!
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Red Currant Syrup
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 4 tsp powdered gelatin
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Syrup: red currants (or other berries), spritz of lemon or orange juice, sugar to taste, lemon or orange zest (optional)
Directions: On the morning or night before you’d like to serve, make the panna cotta: Pour part of the milk into a saucepan and add the gelatin; let it sit until the gelatin softens and swells, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining milk and the sugar and set the saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar and gelatin are dissolved. Do not let the liquid boil. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the cream and vanilla until blended. Divide the mixture evenly among 6 glasses (or bowls), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
To make the syrup, blend 2 cups berries and a spritz of citrus juice in a blender or food processor. Push through a mesh strainer to remove seeds and pulp, add sugar and zest to taste. Boil down for about 10 minutes on the stove, transfer to a container with a lid and chill in the refrigerator until serving time.
To serve, spoon the syrup over the panna cotta in the glasses and garnish with extra whole fresh berries.
Note: You can also use small bowls, mugs, or ramekins as molds for the panna cotta. Lightly grease them with butter before pouring the mixture in and chilling. To serve, dip the bottoms of the bowls in warm water or lay them over a warm wet towel to loosen them and invert them over plates, then drizzle with the syrup.